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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  March 22, 2010 7:00pm-7:59pm EDT

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91% of you said yes. 9% of you said no. that's "the ed show." i'm ed schultz. we're back tomorrow night. coming up next, "hardball" with chuck todd. it starts right here on the place for politics. msnbc. yes, they did. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chuck todd in washington in tonight for chris matthews whose son got married this weekend. congratulations to chris. leading off tonight, health care reform. political suicide or both to democrats health care reform is o accomplishment on the scale of social security and medicare. americans will reward them for what they did. to republicans, health care reform means disaster for the
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economy. and defeat for the democrats. tonight, the political fallout from last night's historic vote. plus, not every republican is so sure that thit this will be the democrats' waterloo. david frum says by refusing to compromise or negotiate republicans went for all the marbles and wound up with none. the waterloo, he says, is theirs. the n word was thrown at black democrats. a gay epitaph hurled at barney frank. bart stupak was called a baby killer on the house floor. the mood has become very ugly out there. can decorum return to the people's house? plus, where do we go from here? could a republican-led lawsuit at the state level by state attorneys general do what republican house members couldn't do? kill the bill? and despite the big health care win, president obama did not go unkey feeted this weekend. his ncaa bracket picks along with mine and everybody else's is a mess. we're going to start with
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the passage of the health care bill. late today i spoke with white house senior adviser david axelrod and asked him whether the senate reconciliation bill was a done deal. that debate starts tomorrow. >> i'm sure it will pass the senate. the question is whether the other side is going to engage in a bunch of dill tory tactics. >> you seem a little less confident this is going to happen. >> no, no, i'm very confident. what i can't tell you what is efforts the other side's going to make. we've seen in the last few weeks senator bunnings' efforts to -- >> the democrats stay united, you're going to be able to get this done. >> i think democrats will be united. >> you feel like 51 votes are there? >> i'm very confident. >> is vice president going to be in town all week? >> he's going to be in town. >> there to preside over the senate? >> he may preside over the senate. i don't think that will be necessary. we have the votes, chuck. health insurance reform is passed. the american people are ready to move on. and we'll see if the republicans
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in the senate are. >> if this stalls for some reason, and it does not get done before recess, will you immediately have them take it up and go back and do these fixes? >> i think they're going to move quickly on this. i'm sure that they -- i'm not willing to concede that this won't be wrapped up by the end of this week. >> lessons learned. everybody has their theory of what lessons you guys learned. what lessons did you learn in this process of getting this done? what would you have done differently? >> oh, you know, i mean, it's always hard when things go your way to look back and say, gee, i would have done this or that and so on. obviously we spent an awful lot of time trying to engage the republicans -- >> too much? >> -- in congress to participate. well, it chewed up months of time. i think it was worthwhile in the sense that we called out a lot of good ideas and the legislation we finished with includes both good republican
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and democratic ideas. >> what are two or three? these republican ideas that without their participation would not have been in this legislation? >> well, you know, whether -- they didn't participate, but they did offer ideas. certainly the whole idea of an exchange or a marketplace where small businesses and people who can't get insurance through their employer can compete or can get insurance at a competitive price. that was an idea the republicans strongly believed in and advanced and that's something that's at the core -- at the core of this legislation. so, and you know, as i've said before, there are 160 amendments that the senate health committee -- >> most of those amendments were not really about the legislation. they were sort of addendums that had to do with, you know, maybe it was native americans or indian reservations, things like
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that. i mean -- >> some of them were. >> are you overaccounting this a little bit? >> to hear the republicans in the congress talk about it, they were shut out, i sat here in this building, chuck, and watched republican senators come in and out throughout the summer and fall to talk about their ideas on health insurance reform. president embraced many of those ideas. some of them were very candid that we'd like to be with you on this legislation, but we can't do it unless a bunch of republicans will come with us because it's politically untenable for us. >> are you going about financial reform and energy differently because of a lesson you learned via the health care? >> i think every issue is different. the one thing that is very clear to me is that the more the president takes this issue right to the american people the more that we have dialogue with the other side. even if it's ultimately not productive in terms of producing
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votes. where we have reasonable discussion about it, as we saw in the summit, or at the president's visit to the republican caucus, i think the better off the country is, and it's a better way to pursue our goals. >> when the scott brown election happened the president, himself, indicated in an interview right after the election that maybe there would be scaled-down health care. what changed your mind? >> i know it was interpreted that way. that day it was very -- we made clear and he made clear subsequent to that. what he was saying it he was open to other ideas. he was not talking about scaling back. >> you feel like that misinterpreted when he said we have to look at the reform? >> the most resolute person in this town from the beginning was the president of the united states who understood that if we were really going to solve the problems of people with pre-existing conditions, if we were really going to have after the main problems in our health insurance system we had to do it in a comprehensive way. he never lost that focus throughout the process.
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>> on this challenge by states, about specifically the mandate, what is it, exactly, that the white house counsel's office has reassured the president, row reassured everybody that's done this, that this can stand up to a challenge -- >> obviously i'm not a lawyer. they're very confident -- >> why? >> -- this is very constitutional. they believe under the commerce clause it's constitutional. every time a major piece of legislation has been passed in this country it's engendered lawsuits. what's curious to me, the idea of a mandate was advanced not just by democratic senators but by republican senators in this process. some of the senators who came in here, senator grassley and others, talked about a mandate. mandate is central to the -- >> you don't think there would have been a challenge? if the republicans -- >> i think no matter what was in this legislation there'd be some legal challenges. that's the nature of our country. and so i expect that that will be the case here as it has been on every other major piece of legislation over the course of our history.
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i'm very confident that this will stand up to legal challenges, and we'll move forward in a very productive way. >> before november of this year, what's another major piece of legislation that you think it's important that the president be signing to take to the campaign? >> well, you know what? i'm not thinking about what he should be signing to take to the campaign. i understand -- >> you must have a -- >> i understand that in this town there's a real fast -- everything is through that -- is looked at through that prism. we have said for some time that it's important that we pass financial reform. because we want to avert the kind of crisis that we've had now and there are provisions in this law that protect consumers and protect the economy as a whole from the excesses of the financial -- >> that's something that's going to get cone this year? >> i think that's important. i think we can get that done. i understand the significant opposition from some sectors of
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the financial community, and we've saw the house minority leader meeting with leaders of the community saying give us a financial support so we can stop -- >> the next big item on the agenda in your mind is financial reform? >> i think if you look at the call czendar of the congress th coming right up. >> is that a priority for this year or something that's going to take -- >> these are issues in which there are bipartisan efforts going on. and that's encouraging on both immigration reform and energy. >> beyond lindsey graham? >> we're working with senators -- obviously he's taking the lead on it, but, you know, we're going to explore what possibilities there are. we want to move the country forward, chuck. i think that's what people want. i was disappointed this morning senator mccain said we're not going to cooperate on anything for the rest of the year and protest over the passage of health reform. i don't think that's the attitude the american people
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want from elected officials. they want us to work together where we can and oppose each other in a principled fashion where we don't agree. that's what we're going to do and hope other leaders in this town will do. >> are you concerned about the tone -- the tone of the debate this week in the senate? that it could disturb whatever shots you have on energy? >> i guess i was a little bewildered by the tone of the house debate. bewildered because the criticisms that were being leveled were not commensurate with the legislation that we were offering. this notion that this is all socialism and radical and so on. our bill is very -- our health care plan that the president is going to sign is very mainstream and very influenced by people like bob dole, very similar to something richard nixon proposed. so i thought the rhetoric didn't match the reality of the legislation. and so, you know, we'll see. i'm less concerned about tone as to whether there's a real will to try to work together to solve
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problems. i think that's what the american people want. >> last question. how should the average person watching is going to say, okay, who's going to run this sort of -- this program from the level of federal government? where should they be expecting to watch? is it the department of health and human services? are they going to take the lead on monitoring the exchanges? all of that going to be run under there? is there going to be new agencies created? >> certainly the department of health and human services is going to take the lead on this. one thing we feel very strongly, chuck, is having advocated these reforms we have a responsibility to see them implemented in an efficient, effective way. and one of the things -- you know, one set of meetings that occurred today were implementation meetings to talk about how we move forward from here. secretary sebelius and hhs are going to be deep -- >> involved in the -- they're the ones that are going to run health care as far as this is concerned? >> well, that's -- >> now that it's been passed? >> that's certainly going to be
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the activity. >> thank you, sir. >> good to be with you. >> that was david axelrod. couple pieces of news out of there. they're koushsly confident when it comes to the senate reconciliation bill. vice president biden might preside over things. clearly financial reform is next. joining me now, the "washington post's" dan balls. dan, where are we today with the obama presidency, where we weren't yesterday? >> well, it's always better to win than not win. and they have fought this battle for a very long time. they have taken a lot of hits on it. both the president personally and the democratic party. they have felt like they have crossed a barrier here. they have a long fight ahead of them. they know that. the republicans are not going to stop battling against this health care fight. we're going to see it all the way through to november and probably see it in 2012. they feel as though they now
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have something concrete they can talk about that will be different than the way the debate has gone up until now. one of the questions is whether they will be any more successful in selling this bill now that it is law than they were before it came law. that's the big question mark hanging over the president and the white house. >> it's funny you asked that. i saw charlie cook quoted over the weekend. he said, what makes them think -- they couldn't sell it for seven months during the debate when everybody was paying attention. how is it going to get better with independents? what is the scenario where suddenly this improves? is it suddenly getting it done or not seeing the negatives? >> well, i think their hope is that the predictions that the sky will fall as a result of this legislation will prove not to be true and that the public will see that over time. secondly, they say, and it's true, there are some benefits that begin to kick in immediately that will effect some people. not all, certainly, but some
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people. there will also be some things people may not like that will begin to kick in. nonetheless, we're going to see some concrete changes that people will be able to measure in a way they weren't able to measure it before this happened. now, the republicans, as you know, are going to take this fight all the way through the fall on several levels. one is -- >> are you convinced of that? i mean, it is interesting. it does seem as if republicans seemed a little bit flumixed today on how to respond. there seemed to be another part of the party that was sort of, okay, now what do we do? >> i think the issue of the repeal is one they have to face squarely. there are a lot of republicans i talked to, you have, too, that say a pure repeal strategy is not a winner. that it has to be a repeal to change something but in a different we than president obama's plan would. so that's the first issue they've got to come up with. how do they actually craft that messa message? or do they allow the people who are purely talking about repeal
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to take the lead? that causes them a problem. i think the second thing they will do is they will use this bill, as they have up to now, as a way of talking about what obama's grand strategy is. which is to say, in their words, much bigger government, more intrusive government, far more government than this country wants. that's one of the issue thars going to try to push. >> dan balz, what a weekend, what a six months it's going to be when it comes to the campaign. who knows what's next. thanks for squoining us. >> thank you, chuck. all right. coming up, republican senator jim demint famously said health care reform would be the president's waterloo. but former bush speechwriter david frum says it may prove to be the republicans' waterloo. he's coming here to explain why next. later, who yelled out baby killer as congressman bart stupak spoke on the house floor last night? >> those who are shouting out are out of order. >> baby killer.
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>> we'll get into some of the ugly attacks surrounding this debate later in the hour. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. oh, just come snuggle with momma! missing something? now at sears optical, get 2 pairs of glasses for $99.99. with bifocals just $25 more per pair. sears optical. don't miss a thing. somewhere in america... there's a home by the sea powered by the wind on the plains. there's a hospital where technology has a healing touch. there's a factory giving old industries new life. and there's a train that got a whole city moving again. somewhere in america, the toughest questions are answered every day. because somewhere in america, more than sixty thousand people spend every day answering them. siemens. answers. answering them. siemens. new anti-aging eye roller. reduces puffiness immediately -- and also helps with lines and wrinkles. not surgery.
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this is our way to do your eyes. new regenerist anti-aging eye roller. the pulitzer prize winning nonpartisan website has the top facts and top lies about health care reform. let's start with the top five facts. fact number five, vast majority of people will not see significant declines in premiums. number four, employers won't be required to buy insurance for employees, but large employers may face fines if they don't. number three, all americans will be required to have health insurance which is called the individual mandate or they'll have to pay a fine. number two, insurance companies will be regulated more heavily than they are now and won't be able to deny people for pre-existing conditions. the number one fact about health care reform, it's not a government takeover of health care like in britain and canada. for the aches and sleeplessness in between,
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look at how this bill was written. can you say it was done openly? with transparency and accountability? without backroom deals struck behind closed doors? hidden from the people? hell, no, you can't. shame on us. shame on this body. shame on each and every one of you who substitutes your will and your desires above those of your fellow countrymen. >> welcome back to "hardball." house republicans unanimously voted no on president obama's health care plan. the same thing is likely to happen in the senate. what does no mean for november? david frum is a former speechwriter for president george w. bush and now editor of i hope i got this right. i know yesterday we were struggling with that. andy roth, vice president for the club for growth. andy, i want to start with you. i'm going to read you something david wrote. i'm sure you read his column.
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he said "at the beginning of this process we made a strategic decision, unlike say democrats in 2001 when president bush proposed his first tax cut. we would make no deal with the administration, no negotiations, no compromise, nothing. this would be obama's waterloo as health care was for clinton in '94. this time when we went for all the marbles we ended with none." now, i know, andy, that club for growth has a pledge asking candidates to sign it that they will pledge to repeal health care. what do you make of david's take here that conservatives shouldn't have walked away? >> well, with all due respect to david, he lives by the compassionate conservative motto that got republicans in trouble in the first place. that during the bush era, the g.w. bush era, there was no spending and more spending and more government. it was just less than the democrats. and that kind of idea that we're not going to stand were principles, we're going to be
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pragmatic, and just try and shoot for a little bit less, i think is a very dangerous thing and doesn't really show a lot of leadership. >> david? respond there. i mean, we know your point there. respond to that, that, you know, did you guys not show enough leadership when you were running things? >> i was not a very important part of the bush administration. i don't think i can claim any responsibility for strategic decisions. that is a statement of pure will power and ideology. that i think i have principles. i think president bush had principles. they happened to be different principles. having some willingness to pay, for example, for the spending we do, that's a principle, too. i think we need to focus on today's problem, and what we are doing is substituting our wishful thinking about the way we would like the american people to respond. i think if we were an electorate of two and andy and i were the only two voters we would gravitate very much to andy's results. the country is full of people who think differently from us
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and they all get to vote, too. >> andy, purity versus pragmatism. it's an argument we see in both parties. for instance, bill frist this morning in an interview with me earlier talked about the fact he thought repeal wasn't really an option. and that this isn't really a practical thing. why do you believe repeal is an option? >> that's an extremely defeatist attitude. i can't believe that that approach is being considered. that shows you the weakness that we have in the republican party right now. listen -- >> can you legislate -- i guess my question is this. how do you say you want to run the government and legislate, and i mean, when there is sort of this -- supposed to be this back and forth. i know democrats, a lot of criticism from republicans saying they didn't work as hard as they could have at compromise. it sounds like any expansion of government is just not in the cards and, yet, we are a two-party system. >> chuck, look at the expansion that has taken place over the last couple of years. i mean, the bank bailouts, the
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stimulus, the obama budget. i mean, the american taxpayer is getting shoved a lot of big government down their throat. to say that we're going to accept this and just go on with it but try and tweak it here and there? the democrat version of big spending and the old republican version of big spending are two ideas that have found their end. we need a third way which is let's stop the government totally. let's stop all of this nonsense and try and repeal it fully and then start over with real reforms. >> we did try stopping the government totally in 1995. it wasn't a big success. that statement is pure fantasy. i'm sorry. you're going to have the piece of paper. the michele bachmann bill that says the law's repealed. then you're going to go around to the more numerous republicans that will be there after november 2010 and say, right, i agree with that except for the part about tax credits for small business. i like those.
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>> so leave that out. >> the stuff about reimposing pre-existing conditions on children under 19, you know, that could lead to a lot of negative ads. that's going to be out. by the time you finish deleting all of the things that come out you have a big bill. does the individual mandate come out? how do we fund all the of the spending the republicans, will, in fact, want to do? what is the funding mechanism want to be? you'll end up with a republican affirmative health care proposal which would be great. why not have done that at the start of the process and maybe integrated some of those proposals into the bill we got? >> this goes to a question that has been -- that minority parties, parties in the minority in government have had to deal with for years, can you get 30% if you can improve something 30% for your philosophical side of things is it better than zero? you're saying zero at this point is better, go for the whole
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enchilada down the road? >> i love the argument with the democrats. we had senators negotiating with the democrats last year and they couldn't make headway. so they got up and left the table. the idea that they're going to willingly accept some conservative proposals isn't a sure thing. you have to fight thr principles. that's what's lacking in washington, d.c., right now. and that's what we desperately need. that's what you're going to find in november when the democrats lose. >> go ahead, david. >> being indifferent to whether or not people, your fell americans have insurance is not a matter of principle. republicans would like to insure those people, too, and make sure health care does not rise to 20%. if we go from 17% of gdp for health care to 20%, how do we fund the american military? countries that face rising health care costs squeeze their militaries. how are we going to have another health chair cost if it starts
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to rise? things andy wants to do are threatened by this same problem. one of the -- there are a lot of republican senators, sorry, they didn't feel like they had to walk away because president obama was unacceptable. they had to walk away because their base was so revved up. there are people who would have liked to have dealt. there are republican ideas, the healthy american's act -- >> andy, what do you say to this -- go ahead. >> bennett's bill, just as much as bad as obama's. it has a huge tax increase. it has a huge individual mandate. it makes people pay their premiums through the irs. that's the most un-american, awful bill that you can imagine and label it as conservative. that's a nasty bill that shouldn't be talked about in any republican circle. >> we have to wrap up. we could go on forever. really quickly, andy, if you don't get repeal and you run on it, don't you demoralize your base going into 2012? >> i don't know how you can
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argue that -- i mean, there are a lot of ways we can attack this through repeal. i mean, we can defund it through the house. there's a lot of options we can do once republicans get in control. and i think we're going to do it in november. >> he's overlooked the most important -- the magic wishing stones option. that's going to be a very important part of this strategy. >> david frum, andy roth. i think this is a fight inside the republican party that is not going to be solved in the next six minutes or the next six months. up next, health care reform is a big victory for president obama. he suffered a couple big defeats this weekend in a completely different contest. frankly, we all did. ncaa bracket. that's ahead in the "sideshow." later, rush limbaugh promises to fight to defeat any democrat who supported health care reform. take a listen. >> we need to defeat these bastards. we need to wipe them out. >> we're going to get into some of these attacks on the right later in the show.
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well, back to "hardball." time for the "sideshow." it was the show the president was watching. he had a huge win this weekend on health care. boy, did he face a big setback elsewhere. ncaa bracket. at least on the men's side. here's a look at where he stands. two of the president's final four teams were upset this weekend. villanova and kansas. you can see kansas was the president's pick to win it all. what a mess. a mess for all of us, frankly. anyway, all things considered, i don't think the president's all that heartbroken. he would trade health care for the correct ncaa bracket any day of the year. rahmbo on the record. katesy couric called out white house chief of staff rahm emanuel on his, quote, colorful
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language. >> why do you have such a foul mouth? didn't your mom ever wash your mouth out with soap? >> i read a piece in "time" magazine about how swearing is good for your mental health. >> do you curse in front of the president? i know he has tweaked you about your profanity in public. >> i've cursed before. i do not curse in the oval office. >> ever? >> i probably have done it once in the time we've been here. >> does he curse? no comment? >> look, you know, i'm not -- this is -- i will go to the grave with my secrets. >> i think we know what that hesitation means. time for the "big number." this past month we saw the president get personal in his final-hour push for health care reform. how many direct pitches did president obama make to democratic house members in the final week? 92. big part of why reform passed this weekend. the power of the presidency. president obama makes 92 pitches to house democrats.
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that's tonight's behind the scenes "big number." i tell you, was the power of the presidency at work. up next, no doubt the passage of health care reform is a big win for house democrats. what will it mean for the midterms? we're going to ask house majority leader steny hoyer. could republican state attorneys general do what house republicans couldn't? could they kill the bill? we'll take a look. tdd# 1-800-340 tdd# 1-800-345-2550 so where's that help when i need it? tdd# 1-800-345-2550 if i could change one thing... tdd# 1-800-345-2550 we'd all get a ton of great advice tdd# 1-800-345-2550 just for being a client. tdd# 1-800-345-2550 i mean, shouldn't i be able to talk about my money tdd# 1-800-345-2550 without it costing me a fortune? tdd# 1-800-345-2550 if i had my way, investment firms would be tdd# 1-800-345-2550 falling all over themselves to help me with my investments. tdd# 1-800-345-2550 (announcer) at schwab investors rule. tdd# 1-800-345-2550 are you ready to rule?
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tonight after nearly 100 years of talk and frustration, after decades of trying and a
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year of sustained effort and debate, the united states congress finally declared that america's workers and america's families and america's small businesses deserve the security of knowing that here in this country neither illness nor accident should endanger the dreams they've worked a lifetime to achieve. >> welcome back to "hardball." that was president obama celebrating his party's big victory in the house last night. now it's on to the senate so now what? democratic congressman steny hi hoyer is the house majority leader. let me start simply about what's going to happen tomorrow in the senate. are you confident senate democrats are going to pass your reconciliation bill of fixes, word for word, this week? >> we believe that's the case. we can't be absolutely assured, nor can senator reid, but certainly that's senator reid's intent. i think it's an intent of the majority of the senate. we hope that's the case and we
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expect it to be the case. >> if they don't, if some parts of it get peeled away with amendments, are you guys willing to take it up again, yourself? >> absolutely. you know, we're going to finish the job that we started. we had a big victory. set the health care bill to the president for signature. he's going to sign it tomorrow morning. and we're going to finish the bill with the amendments called the reconciliation, reconciling the differences between the house and the senate. and when they pass that and send it to the president, that will be the law. if they make some changes we'll certainly be ready to receive them and consider them. my presumption would be, chuck, my presumption would be assuming they're modest changes we would pass them and send them to the president. >> you would accept it word for word. okay. fair enough. it going to be easier, are you going to lose more democrats who voted no on health care or more democrats who voted yes? >> i hope we don't lose on either side. whether --
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>> of course. >> -- a member voted no or yes. i don't want to make that calculation. i don't, obviously, either vote was controversial with some. >> do you think it's easier done as a yes or a no? >> excuse me? >> do you think in these tough swing districts, mccain districts, for instance, it's easier to run as a yes or a no? >> many of our members made a calculation it was easier to run as a no. some made calculation they could run as a yes, but the real, i think, bottom line is going to be, i think what happened yesterday was the democratic party told the american people, the president told them, we've told them we believe there ought to be affordable, accessible health care for all americans. i think the component parts of this bill, people are going to find out that young people who can't find a job coming out of college are going to be insured immediately. they're going to have annual caps on their out of pocket expenditures. they're going to have no
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lifetime limits. the small businesses are going to get a tax break so that they can get insurance. and those in high-risk pools will have a high-risk pool immediately available to them. so we think it's going to be a positive effect on this bill. as you've heard me say, chuck, in the past, the internals on this bill pulled very well. we think bill is going to be accepted well by the american people and, therefore, will be of help for democrats running whether running in no or yes districts as you pointed out. >> i understand. very quickly. if you lose the majority this year, was this worth it? >> absolutely. we're not going to lose the majority this year. we're going to retain the majority this year. we have some extraordinarily good members who are going to bring a message to the american people that this will make america healthier and stronger. better economically and certainly better -- we're going to bring down the deficit with this bill as well, chuck. on all of those messages we're going to retain the majority. >> congressman steny hoyer,
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sorry about your tarapins, but it was a heck of a game you missed. >> it was a terrible, terrible blow to lose in the last .3 of a second. they had a wonderful season. coach of the year. it was a wonderful season. >> thanks very joining us. i want to turn -- thank you, congressman. i want to turn to nbc's chief justice correspondent pete willi williams. we've heard a lot about these lawsuits state attorneys generals are filing. some have filed or plan on filing. all republican attorney generals in virginia, we've heard about south carolina, florida, about nine states maybe will get up to 13. explain what the lawsuit is. what standing they think they have. >> basically their argument is against the part of the bill that basically says if you don't have insurance you have to buy. >> the mandate. >> and if you don't buy it you get taxed. >> okay. >> their argument is the constitution doesn't give congress -- >> you said taxed, not fined.
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>> i'll get to that in a second. the constitution gives congress very broad powers to regulate commerce. here's the objection. if you're in the -- >> so-called commerce clause. >> yeah. if you're in the stream of commerce, then congress can regulate what you do. their argument is if you're outside the stream, you're not doing anything -- >> other than living. >> you don't have any insurance. >> you're just a living person. living american. >> then you can't be regulated. this is regulating people who do nothing. this is like saying, you know, i don't have a car but you have to buy car insurance anyway, is their argument. now, the supporters of this say, no, you, in fact, are doing something. you're going to go to the emergency room. you're going to mooch off your parents or your friends. you do affect interstate commerce. they say congress has broad powers to regulate things. that's one argument. the second is this thing we talked about earlier. is it a tax? in which case there's broad taxing authority. or is it as the opponents say, in fact, a fine? and they say that is beyond congress' authority.
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now, these are actually pretty serious questions. and it's pretty clear congress has never passed anything quite like this. >> okay. explain how this lawsuit process will work. attorney general "x" files a suit where? >> right. go to federal court. >> federal court. the first level of court that would hear this would be -- >> there's the one question. can they get through the door? the lawyers call this legal standing. do they have authority to bring this case? i must say it's not instantly clear what a state's argument is here. we're going to have to see how the attorneys general developed this. >> it may actually have to be an individual who gets the fine and they would have to bring it? >> one problem is this mandate thing doesn't kick in until 2014. the question is, can you file a lawsuit if nobody's harmed by it? can you file it now if no one's harmed by it until 2014? >> destined for a supreme court if it did get some standing, correct? >> yeah. i can't imagine someone won't try to bring it to the supreme court. the question is, does the supreme court want to jump in and overrule an act of congress?
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sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. >> when was the commerce -- the commerce clause was cited in the last 20 years. >> it's been cited a lot. >> no, i mean, in -- tried to be used and the courts wiped out a law. there was one big law, right, the domestic violence -- >> a section of the violence against women act. the gun-free school zones act. the commerce clause -- it is a two-edged sword. sometimes it strikes down acts of congress and sometimes it upholds them. >> pete williams doing an episode of paper chase for us. thanks for joining us. up next, a sitting congressman calls bart stupak babe be killer on the house floor. tea party protesters throw racial and gay epitaphs. rush limbaugh vows to wipe out any democrat who supported reform. can republicans defend these attacks of those from the far right? national car rental knows i'm picky. so, at national, i go right past the counter... and you get to choose any car in the aisle. choose any car? you cannot be serious! okay. seriously, you choose.
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welcome back to "hardball." time for the "politics fix." the president's success this weekend came amidst some of the most rancor we've seen in a while inside and outside the house. eugene robson, pulitzer prize
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winning columnist for "washington post." wolffe, author of the book "renegade." it was decorum in the house seems to have reverted to the 19th century. let's listen to bart stew pack getting heckled. those who were shouting are out of order. >> now, we have identified who this person is. >> it's congressman neugebauer. >> republican from texas. >> right. and he says he wasn't yelling at stupak, he was just yelling in general, i guess, at the legislation, or at the theories, i don't know who he conceivably was yelling at. but talk about breech of decorum. >> richard, have we erased this, whatever -- there used to be some barriers that you just didn't do. you know, whether it was we stop
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calling people mr. and mrs., and now it's so easy for people to show up and throw names, call people names. >> i guess it's a mirror to society and also a mirror to the political discourse that goes on now through all the blogs and twitter and everything else. people find it much easier to be direct. but i think there is a political element to this, which is that they're expressing the anger they're hearing, and the question is, does it speak to anyone other than the base? do you actually appeal to people with this kind of anger, this kind of gut feeling? and i don't know that the people who are turned off by politics really go for this. your base? fine. if your midterms are at the base, they're going to love this stuff. >> i think these guys really mean it. >> what do you mean by that, when you say they really mean it? what do you mean by that? >> the republican party has become much more conservative. the house. >> the republican party or what we're hear something. >> the house republican caucus is much more conservative than it was ten years ago, or 20
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years ago. >> part of that is all their moderates lost. >> exactly. all their moderates lost, and there's a strain of thought that is -- it's not quite libertarian, but it's fundamentalist in terms of constitutional rights and, you know, founders' intent and anti-government. and i think this is -- and that sort of thing just comes out, i think. >> richard, take a listen to rush limbaugh today and his reaction. >> they must, my friends, be hounded out of office. every single democrat who voted for this needs to know, safe district or not, they are going to be exposed and hassled and chased from office. we need to defeat these bastards. we need to wipe them out. >> how does a republican member of congress, they can't -- if they sort of go against and say,
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you know what? he was out of line, he was too much, they would risk offending the base. >> you don't take on him, but he's not a political strategist. okay? his strategy is to get people fired up and listening to his show. so it works on a commercial basis, because if people aren't angry, they're not going to listen to him. but republicans need to figure out how to get more than the 20% of the electorate, 30% of the electorate who are fired up by this kind of thing. and you cannot take rush on, because you're going to provoke a challenge from your right, as gene said, that's where the real threat comes from any of these members of congress now. but reaching the soft republicans, the disillusioned republicans, the growing base of independents, rush limbaugh calling people those kind of things is not a civil way to have public discourse. >> we're going to do a break, we'll come back, you'll get the first word coming back. coming up, who's going to pay the biggest political price over health care? president obama? maybe one of the house democrats that voted yes?
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we are back with "the washington post" eugene robinson and richard wolffe. who's got a bigger problem dealing with the health care issue, president obama or mitt romney? robert gibbs says i know i grim
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as every time i. >> the guy who invented it in massachusetts when he was governor. that is a huge problem for him if you compare the two pieces of legislation, and you look at the obama plan, based on the massachusetts plan. >> with the mandate and everything. >> exactly. i think it's a huge problem for him. >> he came out with an aggressive statement today. this act needs to be repealed. the campaign starts today. he means his own primary campaign, doesn't he? >> right. and the problem for him and republicans in general is it's already a race to the right. typically this would happen later. when george w. bush had to attack right, it was under duress, it was in south carolina. i was with him at bob jones university and he never live it'd down. if you have attacks to the extreme right of your party, precisely on health care he didn't attack too far on the left. >> some conservatives seem to be skeptical about how serious
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romney is about whether he regrets the massachusetts health care plan. >> mitt romney is a talented politician, and so it's somewhat mallable, shall we say, in his apparent core beliefs. but i don't know how he quite slips out of this one, and i think there will be skepticism about how serious he is about, let's repeal it now. >> and how much does the fact that the scott brown victory, it will happen in massachusetts, it centered on health care, and yet he's got to explain his way out of it? >> he shouldn't try and explain his way out of it. there are only so many chances you have to reinvent yourself. can he not run away from health care. and authenticity is going to be key. it's going to be the same in 2012 for the republican candidates. so he has sort of a credibility question about himself if he's abandoning ast centerpiece of wt


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